Egypt Media Roundup – Jul 7, 2014

07/07/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

President Sisi recently ratified a new budget, and along with it came major increases in fuel and electricity prices. Some political parties released statements shortly after the announcement of the budget. The Tagammu Party called the recent fuel hikes and budget cuts a “return to old policies where the government pays its debts from the pockets of the poor.” The liberal Free Egyptians Party has not yet made any comments regarding the new budget, and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party spoke out saying that the fuel hikes will directly affect poorer Egyptians. [Ahram, Daily News Egypt] Read More…

Gender & Sexuality 

At a press conference held by the National Council for Women and Prime Minister Mehleb, the NCW announced the launch of the National Strategy for Combating Violence Against Women. The strategy seeks to bring together various ministries to find “realistic solutions” to sexual violence. The panelists addressed the need to acknowledge sexual violence as a social problem, and to work with both women and men to end and prevent sexual violence. They also addressed the recent allegations of abuse of female prisoners in Egypt, claiming that the allegations are baseless and are used to give Egypt a bad image abroad. [NCW, TNNEgypt]

Rights & Freedoms

President Sisi noted recently at a meeting with local journalists that he believes the recent verdicts against Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed, and Mohamed Fahmy had “very negative effects.” He also claimed that he wished that the journalists had been deported after their arrests rather than put on trial. The president’s statements have raised hope that the journalists may receive a presidential pardon. [BBC, The Guardian, Egypt Independent, The Globe & MailRead More…

Economy

Upon ratification of the new budget, President Sisi also raised fuel prices by 78%, prompting taxi and microbus driver protests all over Cairo. The fuel hikes were part of a larger subsidy cut that also affected food prices. In response, Defense Minister Sobhy ordered the military to transport passengers in Giza to “alleviate citizens’ suffering and minimize harm caused by some drivers’ exploitation of the price hikes by raising the fares.” [Mada Masr, Ahram, Aswat MasriyaRead More…

Security Sector

Lieutenant Sherif Ahmed was shot dead by unknown assailants in Damietta yesterday. Investigations have been ordered into the attack, which took place as he was riding in his car in the northern part of the city. [Ahram]

Foreign Relations

President Sisi recently commented on the political strife in Iraq and its Kurdish region, saying, “The referendum currently demanded by Kurds is nothing… but the catastrophic beginning of the division of Iraq into small rival states, starting with a Kurdish state that will grow to include lands in Syria on which Kurds are living,”…a move that is part of a “terrible plot” that was aimed at “redrawing the region on religious and ethnic grounds.” [AFP]

MORE STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

 Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, plus 36 Brotherhood figures sentenced to life in prison 

Reuters: Egyptian court sentences Muslim Brotherhood leader to life in prison

BBC:Egypt life terms for Badie and 36 Brotherhood figures

In this article: An Egyptian court handed life sentences to Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie alongside 36 other Muslim Brotherhood figures. The 37 were accused of incitement of violence as well as blocking a road in Cairo during the protests of July 2013 after the ouster of former-president Muhammad Morsi. BBC reports that “Judge Hassan Farid ruled the defendants were involved in violence and the murder of two people “to achieve terrorist goals” during protests last July.”

Rights & Freedoms

 “Culture and the arts served as the catalysts for the movement of change that was being shaped [more than] 5 years before the actual revolution” 

Index on Censorship:Did culture and arts prepare Egypt for revolution?

In this article: Long before the 2011 revolution, artists and other Egyptian dissidents formed the “Kefayya” [Enough] movement in 2004, followed by labor protests, pro-democracy youth activist movements, and other groups, who set the stage for the 2011 revolution. The revolution did not happen overnight, rather it was preceded by years of dissent. IOC writes, “Culture and the arts served as the catalysts for the movement for change that was being shaped as early as four or five years before the actual “revolution” erupted. From 2006 onwards many artistic works, including locally-produced films screened in Egyptian theatres, helped fuel the people’s anger and frustration, inciting protests against the inept government. While some may dismiss this theory as absurd, in reality, there is strong evidence to support it.”

 Graffiti artist Ganzeer to speak in NY about art and protests in Egypt 

Ahram:Ganzeer to speak in New York about art and protests in Egypt

In this article: Popular graffiti artist Ganzeer will present his work and discuss the “sociopolitical context in which artwork has been produced over the past 3 tumultuous years” in Egypt at a presentation in New York on July 23.

 Over 700 intellectuals, writers sign open letter calling for the end of Egypt’s protest law  

Ahram: Hundreds of writers, intellectuals endorse call to rescind Egypt’s protest law

In this article: Over 700 Egyptian intellectuals and writers have signed an open letter calling for the abrogation of the protest law in Egypt. The statement reads, “The law in effect has caused greater fallout than any expected benefit … and ignites societal violence and creates hostility between the state and the people.” The letter calls for the repeal of the protest law and release of political prisoners. Several international human rights groups have spoken out against the law since its introduction in November 2013. Amnesty International recently stated, “The protest law allows the Egyptian authorities to ban demonstrations at their discretion and gives security forces a free rein to use force, including firearms, against peaceful protesters — a blatant violation of international law. It sends a clear message that there is no space in Egypt today for activism that is not directly sanctioned by the state.”

Economy

 Cigarette and Alcohol taxes raised 100-200% in new budget  

Reuters:Egypt raises taxes on cigarettes and alcohol

In this article: Shortly after the ratification of Egypt’s new budget, President Sisi also decided to raise the sales tax on cigarettes and alcohol in Egypt. Sales tax on cigarettes were raised by up to 120%, and alcohol tax doubled to 200%. These price hikes also joined an increase in fuel prices as well in an attempt to reduce Egypt’s deficit.

 Egyptian consumers and ministries butt heads over effects of fuel hikes on consumers 

Al Monitor: Egypt’s poor bear the brunt of Sisi’s austerity plan

Ahram: Food subsidy system, market regulation to control inflation: Ministers

Bloomberg: Egypt Set for Costlier Consumer Goods on Energy Prices

In this article: Egypt’s recent price hikes of fuel for both ordinary consumers as well as industrial facilities, and the price rise of electricity and natural gas for household use will negatively affect the poorer classes in Egypt–particularly taxi and microbus drivers, who staged protests after the announcement of the price hikes. However, Egyptian ministries claim that the government has a plan to reduce negative effects–they say, “in order to curb the rising prices of basic food commodities, the government is competing with the private sector by producing staples and selling them at lower prices as well as expanding the list of goods available to ration card holders. Transportation tariffs will be controlled by regulating the market, monitoring bus stops, and increasing both public buses and metro lines.”

 Egypt pays off $700million portion of Paris Club debt 

Ahram: Egypt’s central bank pays off $700 million in debt to Paris Club

Daily News Egypt: Egypt paid $700m to Paris Club on 4 July: Ramez

In this article: Egypt has paid off $700million of debt to the Paris Club, with total debt nearing $3.7billion as of December 2013. According to Ahram, “Egypt’s total external debt stood at $6.5 billion as of December 2013, or 15.5 percent of GDP, compared to $5.6 billion in December 2012, or 14 percent of GDP”

 PepsiCo plans expansion into Upper Egypt–meaning more jobs, more investment 

Daily News Egypt: PepsiCo targeting expansion in Upper Egypt, Delta: GM, PepsiCo Egypt and North East Africa

In this article: PepsiCo is planning on expanding operations in Egypt to the Delta and Upper Egypt in order to increase sales. The company has invested $200million in Egypt over the last two years. The company stated, “We will increase production lines given the company’s $200m investment in difficult circumstances. We will expand with stability.” PepsiCo employs approximately 20,000 works in Egypt, and expects a rise in employment with the company’s expansion.